Kingston celebrates outstanding citizens on Australia Day

Kingston celebrates outstanding citizens on Australia Day

The creator of exercise-based fundraising, a founder of homeless pet services and a community-based food bank with a heart, are among Kingston’s leading community members honoured at the 2021 Kingston Australia Day Awards.

Three awards were announced as part of Kingston Council’s annual Australia Day celebration on Tuesday 26 January at the Kingston City Hall, which included an acknowledgement of the Kulin Nation and saw more than 40 new citizens sworn in at a scaled-down citizenship ceremony.

The awards were for Kingston’s Citizen of the Year, Community Group of the Year and due to an exceptional field of nominees, this year we have reintroduced the Outstanding Citizen of the Year Award.

Presenting the Awards, Mayor Steve Staikos said the award winners were selected from a fantastic group of nominees, all of whom had helped make Kingston a stronger community.

“The winners and nominees have all made outstanding contributions across a wide range of areas in Kingston,” Cr Staikos said. “We have some incredible volunteers in Kingston and these awards are a great way to thank them for their efforts and acknowledge the positive impact they make.”

Citizen of the Year – Daniel Maitland

Personal Trainer and fireman, Daniel Maitland has combined fitness with fundraising to create ‘Training With Mates’.

Daniel’s sister Bec was just 28 when she suffered from a stroke, changing her life forever. To raise awareness for young stroke survivors and funds for the Stroke Foundation, Daniel organised a 28km charity relay run.

Daniel has also done charity work in the past for breast cancer survivors and other charities. Training With Mates as a collective has raised $20,000 plus for charities over the years.

Outstanding Citizen Award – Yvonne Hong

Yvonne Hong is the founder and CEO of Pets of the Homeless, the only charity in Victoria which works to keep people experiencing or at-risk of homelessness and their pets together. Despite receiving no ongoing government funding, Yvonne’s determination has resulted in Pets of the Homeless becoming a self-sufficient business, which provides much-needed treatment and care to the pets of the most vulnerable members of our community.

Community Group of the Year – Pantry 5000

Pantry 5000 provides groceries and a place to go for hundreds of people who are socially and economically disadvantaged. During the COVID-19 lockdowns, Pantry 500 had to re-jig its operations to ensure that its hundreds of recipients did not miss out. The team moved their operation out of the church hall into homes, where they packed and then personally delivered food goods to those in need.

Pantry 5000 does not only feed disadvantaged people, the group does its best to help its clients to alleviate loneliness, by offering them a helping hand and a friendly ear to talk to. When it first started in 2012, it had a team of nine volunteers. Now there are over 60 volunteers, many of whom first came to get support for themselves and joined the team to carry it forward and help others.

This year’s Australia Day celebration was run a little bit differently to usual, as its numbers needed to be scaled-down to be COVID-safe – with attendance to the citizenship ceremony limited to include only those who are being sworn in. To help them to share the day, Council will supply its new citizens with a recording of the service.

“Whilst we needed to limit the number of attendees to ensure that social distancing was possible at this event, we know that this is a significant moment in many people’s lives which they want to share with friends and loved ones. Council is happy to provide its new citizens and award winners with a free recording of the event, to give them an opportunity to relive this momentous occasion.”

The central message to this year’s Australia Day is that we ‘respect, reflect and celebrate’ what it means to be Australian. Kingston Council felt it was important to include an acknowledgement of its indigenous community.

“Our area has a rich history, which dates back tens of thousands of years to our first Australians. Council would like to acknowledge that, while Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have great pride in their heritage, this day reminds them of past loss, and these feelings are a legitimate part of this national day.”

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